Man held for writing 'good morning' on Facebook

A man in the West Bank was arrested by Israeli police after he wrote “good morning” in Arabic on Facebook and then software mistranslated his words as “attack them”.

Palestinian builder Halawim Halawi had posted the words with a photo of himself in the Israeli settlement of Beitar Ilit where he works.

Facebook’s automatic translation software interpreted the post to mean “attack them” in Hebrew and “hurt them” in English, according to Haaretz.

Israeli police were then informed of the message and they became suspicious because he was standing next to a bulldozer.

Such vehicles have been used in terror attacks and officers thought he may be threatening to carry out such an atrocity, the website reported.

Mr Halawi was arrested and then questioned on suspicion of incitement.

Fortunately, police realised they had made a mistake and released him a few hours later.

It was unclear how such a translation error could have been made as there are no apparent similarities between the Arabic expression used for “good morning” and the phrases in Hebrew or English.

Police spokeswoman Luba Samri told the AFP news agency that “a few days ago, a Palestinian was detained for questioning on suspicion of incitement through his Facebook page”.

She said he was “immediately released” after the suspicions turned out to be false.

Haaretz reported that the Facebook post has since been deleted.

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